Turbines’ poor record

MUCH-criticised wind turbines on the edge of Alnwick have been out of action for almost half the time they have been installed, according to figures released following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Gazette.

The statistics, provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), show that the three generators at its flagship Lion House were offline for a total of 494 days since they went live on March 2, 2009. By comparison, they were working for 581 days during the same period.

The problems arose after a world-wide recall by the turbine manufacturer, Proven Energy, which discovered a fault with its P-35 model in 2009. Proven finally went bust last September, but was sold by receiver KPMG to Irish renewables firm Kingspan Wind.

However, Kingspan has refused to honour any liabilities and warranties for P-35 turbines, while KPMG has said owners will not receive their money back. The taxpayer will now have to foot the bill to get them working again.

Town and county councillor for Alnwick, Gordon Castle, said: “This is a dire service record and not a great advert for wind power in general, particularly with it being paid for in this case from the public purse.

“I’d like to see the cost-benefit equation for this one.”

Defra’s figures show that the turbines were operational between March 2 and November 30 in 2009, before being turned off for almost a year. They were back up and running until April 25, 2011, but off again for a few weeks to May 16.

They then went live again until September 26, only to be halted once more and they have not turned since then.

Defra says it hopes to return the units to operational status as soon as possible, as long as there is no ongoing health and safety risk.